Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Winter Of My Content

IONA – “Mid-Winter Light” CD EP ’09 (Barnaby Productions, US) – Something you may notice about this disc by Virginia’s Celtic band IONA is that it would appear to be a “holiday” release. With that in mind, you may be thinking, “Dang, Ray, a little late on that one, eh?” And truth be known, I am. IONA was kind enough to drop this one in my mailbox several weeks back and yet here I sit, having just now fully digested it nearly halfway through January. And for just over 13 minutes, it’s a hearty treat.

The opening track sees the band take on a set from Derbyshire, Isle Of Man, Shetland Islands and Ireland. The infectious “I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In” blends with “Three Little Boats Went Out To Sea” and “Christmas Day Ida Moarnin’.” It all segues nicely into the ripping “Christmas Eve Reel” for a melody and energy-laden 5 minutes. “The Wran” (Ireland) sees Jim Queen taking lead vocals, at first in a pensive, deliberate pace with flute accompaniment. The band then joins in for a commanding take on “Ballyhoo” and the “The Wran” comes in again, much faster. After a blistering fiddle/Irish hard shoe duel (Queen & Kathleen Larrick) we hear Queen rip through the vocals at light-speed, with female backing. Finally, Barbara Tresidder Ryan takes lead vox on “Gloucestershire Wassail/Can Wassel,” a piece just begging the listener to join in on. Through each number, the entire band fuses effortlessly, whether it be Ryan’s bodhran, Bernard Argent’s flutes & whistles or the bass guitar of Chuck Lawhorn.

The fact of the matter is this: “Mid-Winter Light” may on one hand be a 3-track EP with a decidedly holiday theme. On the other, it’s a powerful testament that IONA is one of the best Celtic bands out there…any day of the year! A Light In The Black

NOTE: All IONA’s releases come highly recommended!



Barbara said...

Ray, our HERO! WHEN do we get together to celebrate YOU? Thank you so much for the always kind words, and thoughtful input. Know you're heard, and appreciated...

raysrealm said...

Hey, your music is appreciated from this corner, believe me. You guys have been remarkably consistant over the years. Always a treat to receive a package from Barnaby Prod.!